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Institute of Sport and Recreation (ISRM) Take Action to Improve Pool Safety with E-

The Institute of Sport and Recreation (ISRM) has joined forces with e-learning specialist REDTRAY to provide the first interactive training course aimed at reducing the risk posed to the general public from spa pools.

The ISRM has quickly developed the course in response to an influx of training requests, following a report issued by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) warning against the growing risk of infection from poorly maintained spa pools. The report found that over a quarter of spa pools surveyed contained the potentially lethal legionella bacteria, and of those that tested positive for the bacteria only two thirds met acceptable levels.

Fighting the War on Bacteria

Dr John Lee, an expert of water-borne infection at the HPA, commented on the results: “Spa pools provide the perfect conditions for certain bacteria to survive and cause infection because they have a raised water temperature and conditions that create an aerosol of water. They can also have large number of bathers compared to water volume.”

The HPA’s alarming findings follow a number of high profile outbreaks of Legionnaires” disease in recent years, linked with poor management practice in the operation of spa pools. According to Lee, pools that are correctly disinfected, fully drained weekly and use the correct filtration methods will not normally contain these bacteria.

“However, in poorly maintained pools the conditions will be perfect for the growth of bacteria and these have been identified as a cause of infection in the past,” he continued. The HPA’s report gives guidance on the specific responsibilities of those managing commercially run spa pools to ensure that staff as well as recreational users are protected from infections such as Legionnaires” disease and folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles), and to prevent other hazards to health such as slipping.

Safety First

Based on the HPA’s guidelines, the ISRM’s special online course has been devised by REDTRAY to ensure that spa pool staff do not have to be absent from work to attend residential courses. Commenting on the course, Martin Steer, Education and Training Development Officer for the ISRM explained it provides an easy training solution to any establishment or business that operates spa pools commercially.

“All the basics are covered to meet Health and Safety requirements, in a language that is easy to understand. In fact this online course will be of interest to anyone who wants to earn more about spa pool safety,” he claimed. As well as being a more affordable way to train staff at £25 per user, managers are able to monitor those undertaking the course, test their knowledge, and identify and tackle the points at which staff struggle in their understanding, says the ISRM.

In addition, participants are able to undertake the training at their convenience, at home or at work, while ultimately enabling them to meet the training requirements stipulated by the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, as well as satisfying other responsibilities under the Health and Safety Law. “The fact that it can be bought online and delivered instantaneously means that staff can be properly trained within a matter of days or even hours if need be,” said Vicky Jones, Account Director at REDTRAY, adding: “The quicker the training takes place the quicker the UKs spa pools will become safer.”

A Good First Step

The initiative comes not before time. While the ISRM has acted swiftly on the HPA’s recommendations, the provision of a course, and the wider awareness of the need for better staff education, is long overdue. The UK and Europe have suffered a succession of fatal and near-fatal spa-related Legionnaires” outbreaks during the course of the last six years, including four cases of hospitalisation in Spain in 2003, 85 infections and 13 deaths in one incident in France in 2004, and 27 cases and three deaths in the UK in 2003.

We have known of the dangers of spa-related disease for years, but it seems ignorance, expense and the unwillingness to lose staff to training courses has prevented the general drive toward self-education. REDTRAY and the ISRM’s joint innovation is a welcome solution to these problems, providing staff themselves are willing and motivated to learn.

Michelle Price

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